My new normal: Life after losing a baby
Losing a baby can be a terrifying, isolating experience, but it’s something that more of us than you might expect will experience.
This Baby Loss Awareness Week, to help break the silence surrounding this difficult subject, we spoke to Charlene Espie, a blogger and writer from Glasgow, about her ‘new normal’ approach to motherhood after losing her daughter.
“The death of a baby is not a rare event. It can happen to anyone”. These words are taken from Baby Loss Awareness Week’s website. I wish I could tell you just how wrong this statement is. I wish I didn’t have to tell you just how true this is. You see, baby loss unfortunately can happen anywhere, at any time and to anyone. I know this to be true because it happened to me.
Our baby girl, Francesca, spent 41 weeks snuggled safely within my tummy until February of last year when our lives changed forever. After what was deemed to be a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, our very much loved and wanted baby girl was tragically stillborn. We had passed all the pregnancy ‘safe zones’, so the last thing we expected to hear when we arrived at the hospital finally in labour was to hear: “I’m so sorry there is no heartbeat, your baby has died.”. How could it be that we had to say goodbye before we even had a chance to say hello?
The months following our baby’s death felt raw and isolating. We had never known anyone who had gone through anything like this before, or if they had, they’d never spoken of it. The professional aftercare was extremely disappointing and, unfortunately, we soon found out first hand just how unequipped our country really is when it comes to providing support for grieving families. I felt like everything I had ever known had been shaken to the core. I found that as well as trying to cope with the overwhelming heartbreak, I also had to pick my 30-something self back up from rock bottom to somehow start to carve out a new normal life. It still amazes me the way grief can impact every single aspect of your life. Little things I once took for granted are now continuously shrouded in fear and anxiety.
I soon realised the taboo surrounding baby loss is a very real issue. Along with trying to navigate through our grief, we also discovered that some of those closest to us began to drift quietly away. The very same people that had been there throughout our pregnancy had now started to disappear from our lives. The visits stopped and the Whatsapp messages became less frequent. Maybe they simply didn’t know what to say or how to act around such sadness and grief?
It was through sharing my story online at forfrancesca.com that I found like-minded grieving parents all with one thing in common: a need to talk about our babies but with a world not ready to listen. Together, by sharing our stories, we can help break the silence and the stigma of baby loss in today’s society. We can help to shine a light on the areas that are failing within our sectors and ensure a consistency of care throughout the country. We can let the world know our babies existed; that they mattered.
I am also proud to say I have teamed up with SiMBA charity and the Glasgow-based Social Mamas Club to host the very first Let's Talk Baby Loss event. This will be held in the Penthouse Suite in Hummingbird, Glasgow, on Tuesday October 29. There has never been an event quite like this in Scotland, so it is a fantastic opportunity to meet and talk with other mums who have also experienced the loss of their baby at any stage of pregnancy or close to the time of birth. The evening will offer a unique support that is very much needed in this country and I feel so honoured to have been asked to be a part of this movement.
For us, Francesca was a baby. She won’t be defined as simply another statistic or stillbirth. She was our baby and we love and miss her very much.